Like American Pharoah, Tepin had a flawless 2015 outside of Saratoga. Her superiority in the spring and in the fall, exemplified by a resounding victory over males in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), was reflected by an equally convincing tally in the vote for champion turf female.

Trained by Mark Casse for Robert E. Masterson, Tepin was a useful juvenile on the dirt, placing in the Rags to Riches prior to winning the 2013 Delta Downs Princess (G3). The bay lost her way at three in 2014, when she hit the board only once from four starts. That came in the grassy San Clemente (G2) at Del Mar, a foreshadowing that turf would be her game.

The surface switch made perfect sense from a pedigree perspective. Indeed, even her half-brother Vyjack, a multiple Grade 2 winner on dirt, has since ventured over to turf. By successful international sire Bernstein, responsible for 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile champ Karakontie, Tepin is out of Life Happened, by the high-class European sprinter Stravinsky. Both Bernstein and Stravinsky were trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Tepin was a new and improved model as a 4-year-old. After resuming with a March 21 allowance score at Gulfstream Park, she changed tactics to wire the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on Derby Day at odds of 9-1. Tepin was next seen on Belmont Day in the Just a Game (G1), where she extended her winning streak to three.

Although that skein was snapped at the Spa, Tepin ran two mighty races in last-gasp defeats. She chased the taxing pace in the July 25 Diana (G1) and struck the front, only to be mugged by Hard Not to Like at the end of the 1 1/8-mile test. Tepin was similarly denied by Dacita in the final strides of the 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa (G2).

Perhaps those losses were attributable to the slightly longer distances. Or perhaps Tepin just isn’t a summer kind of horse. When getting a change of venue to the cool, damp Keeneland fall -– “Tepin weather,” in Casse’s phrase – she took a leap forward.

In the October 3 First Lady (G1), Tepin careered away by seven lengths. Could she do the same versus world-class males, and a presumably stronger pace scenario, in the Breeders’ Cup Mile over the same course and distance? Rain helped her cause, producing a more moderate early tempo to stalk. But there was no doubt about her authority as she opened up an insurmountable lead into the stretch. Tepin crossed the wire 2 1/4 lengths clear of Woodbine Mile (G1) hero Mondialiste, with Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) victor Grand Arch in third, and such formidable Europeans as Make Believe, Esoterique, and defending champion Karakontie well behind.

Tepin had saved her best for last, posting back-to-back career best BRIS Speed ratings. She topped her 105 from the First Lady by recording a 107 in the Mile.

Having joined an illustrious club of female Mile winners, Tepin stays in training in hopes of emulating two-time heroine Miesque (1987-88) and getting closer to three-time queen Goldikova (2008-10). She brings a scorecard of 15-7-3-1, $2,475,973, into her 2016 campaign.

Tepin returned to the worktab at Palm Meadows January 8 and promptly fired a bullet half-mile in :52.25 on a soft turf course. She is slated to reappear in the February 13 Endeavour (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, followed by a return to Keeneland in April, possibly to tackle males in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1).

Bred by Machmer Hall in Kentucky, Tepin was purchased for $140,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling. She was going to command some multiple of that at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky’s November Sale, held the day after her Breeders’ Cup heroics. But Masterson understandably withdrew her, preferring to keep his Mile – and now Eclipse champion.

TURF FEMALE

 

FIRST-PLACE VOTES

TEPIN

 

211

Found

 

 38

Stephanie’s Kitten      8

Photo courtesy of Breeders’ Cup Ltd.

 

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